July has been a mixed bag weatherwise so far but, rain or shine, it is a month bursting with life in our garden. Fledglings are starting to venture from their nests and I love to watch the blackbirds supervising their young as they feed on the lawn when the cats are safely indoors. We even have a wood pigeon nesting in the plum tree. I have never seen a pigeon sitting on her brood before – it almost looks like the nest isn’t large enough for her as she is spilling over the edges. We fear for her babies when they come along – the plum tree is easy to climb at the best of times and it is close to the woodshed so that the cats can step across from the roof into the tree. They haven’t noticed she is there yet and we hope it stays that way.
We have a new member of the New Simple Life family but he has had mixed reactions so far. The Calamity Cat ignored him, Jasmine crept warily closer and closer until she tentatively patted him. When he didn’t react, she decided he wasn’t a threat and paid no more attention to him after that. Poor Daisy though was terrified and won’t go anywhere near. We think he is great fun but he needs a name now – does anyone have any ideas?
As well as birds, cats and statues, there are bees everywhere. I recently donated to Friends of the Earth and received their bee-saving pack, which contains an identification guide and I have spent many happy hours sitting on the bench near the cottage garden bed, peering at the bees as they feast on the pollen from the flowers in the bed and trying to work out what type they are. So far I have seen honey bees, garden bumblebees, tree bumblebees, common carder bumblebees and female red-tailed bumblebees. Not bad for just one garden!
The harvest is now starting in earnest. We have had so many strawberries, we can’t eat them all. I have made strawberry and rhubarb jam, strawberry crumble and a strawberry puree to pour over ice cream. We have shared them with colleagues and, in spite of netting, with the local wildlife. We don’t begrudge the insects and birds too much – we have plenty to share. I even disturbed a frog in there the other day but I suspect it was after the slugs rather than the strawberries.
Both our first and second early potatoes are up and being stored ready for use. Onions and garlic are drying in the shed on a drying rack D made from spare offcuts of wood and we are eating the first carrots and beetroot although some carrots haven’t done well. The dry May and wet June have fooled several plants, the carrots included, into thinking that summer has been and gone and it is time to set seed. We even harvested a few parsnips which were in a space we needed for other things. We would normally wait until after the first frosts to harvest parsnips but these were overflow ones and had to go. We had a feast of roasted vegetables seasoned with home grown herbs and they were delicious. And, to my delight, our impulse buy of the year – a single cucumber plant – has yielded several snack-sized cucumbers. D isn’t a fan so I get those to myself!
There is much more to come as the summer progresses – we have to hope that most things will wait until we return from our imminent holiday.